Ted Bundy and Guilt

“Guilt is a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes or realizes that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a universal moral standard and bears significant responsibility for that violation.” –Wikipedia definition

Guilt is a feeling that most individuals experience in their lifetime. It can be argued it’s what makes America a civilized society. Guilt reminds us to act in a pro-social manner lest we feel emotional distress due to our actions. Guilt can be a very powerful motivator that provides the tenants of a productive community. Most members of society learn to experience vicarious pain while young and they develop into adults who sympathize with others in pain. By learning this behavior, the idea of harming others through violence starts to feel uncomfortable. That said, it would be unsurprising to learn that Ted Bundy did not experience remorse. He saw guilt as a sign of weakness and judged those who exhibited guilt on any level. Ted famously said he felt sorry for people who felt remorse.

However, psychopaths like Bundy lack guilt and empathy. They compartmentalize their feelings and view the world from a purely narcissistic viewpoint. Anything and everything around them is theirs to use and control.  Many psychopaths live in their own fantasy world. For a psychopath to commit any range of crimes, it is essential that they feel entitled. In this way, the individual feels he or she deserves what they want, regardless of laws. Most psychopaths understand the difference between right and wrong, but do not feel the rules apply to them. They are easily able to minimize their effect on humanity when embarking on a crime spree. Guilt never plays a part in their crimes.

Ted Bundy once said, “Guilt. It’s a mechanism we use to control people. It’s an illusion. It’s a kind of social control mechanism and it’s very unhealthy.” The language he uses gives the impression he at least understood how guilt worked and how it affected people. Unfortunately, he used his knowledge of guilt to manipulate his victims and others around him. The women who fell for his “wounded law student” routine felt they should help him carry his books to his car.  Bundy knew exactly how to control the situation to benefit his interests and was never hindered by feelings of regret. A lack of empathy combined with superficial charm guaranteed a pool of victims for a sophisticated serial criminal whom no one ever saw coming.

Much can be said about Bundy’s lack of guilt and its causes. His childhood remains locked in mystery, though stories of abuse and dysfunctional behavior have leaked to the media over time. Joe Nunziata noted in his book “Spiritual Selling” that “Guilt [and shame] is the weapon of choice used by parents to control their children…In most cases, parents are not using guilt on a conscious level.” More than likely, Bundy’s behavior as a child was curbed by the guilt elicited by his mother and grandparents. Due to various circumstances, guilt was less of a motivator over time, and his aberrant behavior increased. Once arrested, Ted told to an investigator, “I don’t feel guilty for anything. I feel sorry for people who feel guilt.” When all is said and done, the lack of remorse extolled by Ted’s callous behavior speaks volumes. His behavior wouldn’t have changed regardless of consequences, only turning more violent over time. Despite its strength, guilt clearly had no power over him.

Nunziata, J. “Spiritual Selling,” Hoboken, NJ, Wiley, 2007.

Winch, Guy Ph.D. (11/9/14). “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Guilt.”https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201411/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-guilt

 

 

 

Published by

E.J. Hammon

I live in North Carolina and I'm fascinated by all things "murder." Ted Bundy is the first serial killer I ever studied and I have always felt very drawn to him. Find me on Twitter @rosedysfunction. Hope to see you at CrimeCon 2020 in Orlando!

15 thoughts on “Ted Bundy and Guilt

  1. You talk about Guilt, being a Lust Murderer and wanting to get caught. Are they not related?
    Dahlmer wanted a better and better orgasm, so his fantasies and crimes got worse as he continued, he evolved
    Is Ted a Thrillseeker? His murders get more and more henious, more risky, more thrilling.
    Like Chi-Omega being the ultimate brazen risk. Someone said somewhere he asked or was told that Florida had the death penalty.
    And he appeared next in Florida, like he was somehow wanting to get caught and stopped.
    What if for him it represented the greatest risk? risking it all by murdering in Florida, gambling with his own life.
    He’s like an addicted gambler taking greater and greater risks?
    Constantly trying to disprove his low self esteem? Making himself better and better in his own mind?
    When in reality he hates or thinks nothing of himself?
    It’s his own personal reinforcement of character, defending himself, killing on mass, in a death penalty state
    He is constantly proving himself to himself? and no-one else (maybe his grandfather)
    As for whether he only killed between 1974-1978
    For someone who only started in 1974 he does seem to be damn good at it?
    I wouldn’t know where to begin if I ever thought about it
    It strikes me that wasn’t the first time he’d done it
    When I look at his capacity as a thief, rapist, murderer
    He seems top of the game professional in all categories
    I can only imagine he has been doing this all his life
    And only when he got over confident did we notice
    I think he got arrogant as he got better and that’s how we even knew he existed
    I reckon he had been killing people meticulously, quietly, purposefully for years without anyone even knowing, perfecting his art
    He wanted to be more adventurous, maybe even famous?

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Neil! I’m not certain that guilt is necessarily the reason some killers turn themselves in. I believe that quite often they become bored or prefer the fame that being arrested affords them. I’ve heard that story about Bundy asking a jailer about states that had the death penalty. Was that part of why he went there after his second prison escape? It’s possible. Sadly, there’s not enough evidence beyond that second-hand conversation with the jailer and the aimlessness of someone trying to avoid arrest. Bundy may have simply driven as far as possible after leaving Georgia until his stolen car was out of gas. He was on his way to Alabama when he was arrested in Florida, so perhaps he wasn’t as interested in seeing how things played out there after attacking several victims in that particular state.

      True, it’s doubtful that Bundy only killed between 1974-1978. He planned Lynda Healy’s abduction down to the last detail, even making her bed and hanging up her bloody nightgown. He was brazen when leaving the house with her unconscious body. There is a belief that he murdered two young women in New Jersey in 1969, so he would have at least 5 years under his belt if that were the case.

      Yes, Bundy absolutely got cocky and over-confident, which lead to his eventual demise. I’m not convinced he wanted to be famous while he was still killing undetected. He even refused to give his real name to Leon County, Florida officers and was booked as a John Doe until police from Utah (I believe it was Jerry Thompson) contacted Leon County officers and they compared his driver’s license with his booking photo. That said, I can believe that he milked the media attention for all it was worth. He used it to make himself look like the boy next door who wouldn’t hurt a fly. He even used it to manipulate Dr. James Dobson on the night before Bundy was executed.

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      1. Wow! Thankyou so much for the detailed reply EJ (Not sure how to address you)!
        I don’t know I read about these guys who like win the most coveted medal in the entire army on some secret special forces mission in enemy territory that no-one knows about. They are given titles, made to be more important than some of the most important people in the country and it’s all totally top secret. Or like Alan Turing whose work was all secret because it was wartime. I just thought surely these heros would love some kind of recognition, even though they have got buckets of i, even if it is under wraps.
        You watch some film on TV and I think like the Zodiac killer was communicating with the cops saying things that only the killer would know, like they are proud of their ability and seek some kind of recognition for it, and interaction with the police, what did you think of that bit for instance? like feedback almost?. That kind of fame I guess.
        No need to answer this one, your call. But thankyou so much..

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Feel free to call me E.J. I’m happy to reply, especially when the object of your conjecture is Ted Bundy. What you say about some killers, The Zodiac Killer for example, is they do enjoy the media reporting their crimes. BTK (Dennis Rader) was one of the worst for wanting to see his crimes published on the news, as was Jack the Ripper. Certain individuals have a need to feel all-powerful by taunting police and the public. Bundy wasn’t that way though he manipulated the press to his benefit and reveled in the spotlight. Ted didn’t want recognition for his crimes because his goal was to continue committing rape and murder under the radar. He didn’t admit guilt until it was his last resort, shortly before his execution. I believe he is still so fascinating because he was considered good-looking, didn’t look like your average criminal, and continually claimed innocence on all charges.

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  3. I have a question for you E J

    Loads of people wanted some bloke somewhere in California for burglary
    60’s I think
    Loads of people wanted some bloke somewhere in California (somewhere else) for burglary and ransaking
    Loads of people wanted some bloke somewhere in California (somewhere else) for burglary, ransaking and rape
    Loads of people wanted some bloke somewhere in California (somewhere else) for burglary, ransaking, rape and murder
    Turns out it was a steady progression of the same bloke, then they said, what happens if he wasn’t just operating in California?
    These guys were merged and he became the Golden State Killer
    (East Bay rapist or something,somewhere then something else somewhere else, etc, etc)
    For years, like ages no-one ever considered it might be the same bloke

    Anyways
    This guy was identified in connection with burglaries / ransaking / rapes / murders
    And was wanted for ALL of them by the authorities
    He progressed from each to the next
    became good at one, over confident perhaps, then progressed
    And this guy was like stealing all over the shop, prowling round peoples houses late at night
    towns became littered with his burglaries and ransaking
    He left ONE MASSIVE PATTERN wherever he went
    obvious to the authorities that some guy here is doing all this stuff
    Then the stuff in that area would just stop, even though everyone says serial killers never stop?
    but he did, actually he didn’t, he just went somewhere else

    What happens if this all started out with him being a peeping tom?
    Doesn’t that sound like someone else?
    And whenever cops found Ted he always had his burglary/rape kit on him, and loads of stolen stuff
    It wasn’t just a rape kit, it was a burglary/rape kit?
    And cops started to see patterns in his murders in various states and linked them to one guy
    Anyways, maybe Ted just evolved faster than the other guy, so people were slower to see a pattern
    But I wondered
    Maybe there was a Washington Square Ransacker?
    Or Utah Salt Lake City Rapist?
    So this guy in Washington has ransaked 20 houses
    So this guy in Utah has raped 30 women
    Ted has murdered 30 women
    So this is 3 different dangerous guys, but actually it’s just one of THE MOST DANGEROUS
    And the Golden State Killer got caught when ALL these areas pooled their resources
    Which is exactly when Ted was caught, when Utah spoke to Florida, etc, etc
    People thought was some other guy totally unrelated to Ted?
    but was actually Ted?
    So I wondered if we could look at criminals acting in areas where Ted was operating who acquired some level of noteriety?
    For say burglary or rape, but appeared to have the same MO?

    In the Golden State Killer, that guy was burglary, whilst that guy was ransaking, so they were different
    and that guy was raping, so they must all be different?
    ,
    Or should I stop asking questions that other people have probably already thought of?

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    1. If I understand you correctly, Neil, you’re asking if Bundy was involved in more crimes than just murdering 30+ women, perhaps identified as something else than “The Ted Murders.” It’s certainly possible that there were a lot of crimes (murders included) than we know. Ann Rule advised that Bundy was arrested for theft as a juvenile, though his record was expunged once he became an adult. There are also a few murders, including the double murder of 2 young women in Ocean City, NJ in 1969. I read a book a few years ago that surmised Ted was involved in a few copycat killings in Georgia while he was there in January 1978 before heading to Florida. It was a compelling theory, but there’s nothing concrete to connect him to the killings.

      Feel free to keep asking those questions because they are thoughtful ones. It’s good to be skeptical and question what we think we know!

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      1. Those 2 girls aren’t the air stewardess are they?
        They were another 2? I read about that
        And they think it might be him because of Lake Sammish with those other 2 girls?
        The concept of liking 2 girls at the same time?
        And the air stewardess was remarkably similar to Omega Chi

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  4. I have some questions

    They caught the Golden State Killer by a fractional DNA match
    That is, they didn’t match HIM persee, they matched evidence found at the scene to everybody they could
    based on the fact they **MIGHT** find someone in his family tree
    They matched the DNA they had with some random guy, then systematically trawled through his whole family tree
    with anybody who might possibly be a suspect
    DNA matching is so advanced now that they can match a crime to a distant cousin
    Then just monitor the WHOLE family tree, but it takes permission from like the president himself or something to do that

    I read that many cold cases could never be solved because there was no longer any DNA
    Even though they can now kinda hoover it up it seems to like some minisicule part per million or something

    They have just found a vial of blood of Ted Bundys, they never knew they had it for the last 30 years
    I bet it’s a vial of Rosa Bundy’s blood, and it’s for fractional matching

    Ann Rule said he killed long before 1974
    Ted said he first started thinking about it in 1969
    It’s funny we believe him if he roughly says something about a girl in California
    But don’t necessarily believe him if he says he first thought about it in 1969
    He alluded to many victims it seems, that people believe might be her or her
    And those 2 girls were 1969, the air stewardess
    Doesn’t mean he couldn’t have stared before that though
    It’s also stated he killed 100 women and one man
    Who was the man? Where did that come from?

    Some people believe he can only have started killing after he went out with that girlfriend
    because thereafter every woman he killed had a center parting just like she did, and all his victims could have been sisters
    But what if he went out with her because she had a center parting, just like that girl in (say) the 5th grade when he was like 11?
    So actually he always liked center parting’s long before her even
    So you can’t state whether he started killing before or after her

    Did the air stewardess have a center parting? or her friend?

    Also this woman, he abducted in 1972
    https://www.kiro7.com/living/dating/ted-bundy-kidnapping-victim-shares-story-of-1972-kidnapping-and-how-she-escaped/696691973
    He threw her out of the car because she had cut her hair a different way
    She thought he picked her up randomly? But he was angry because she had cut her hair a different way (no center parting)?
    So he must have been stalking her? and for how long?
    And he was going to kill her, and that was 1972
    And she couldn’ get out of the car because the passenger door had no handle
    He removed that handle for that very reason
    And that was obviously before 1972?

    As far as any possible involvement in any other murders
    It seems if someone fell over in the toilet in the early seventies and died
    Half of America always reckoned Ted Bundy did it, even if he wasn’t even in the same country, let alone State
    It’s said Ted was known to have driven for days for a kill, so just about anywhere is plausible
    The reason why the vial of blood is so important is actually more to rule him out of 3 million possible victims
    Rather than to involve him
    Because he so overshadows the entire case whenever he is mentioned

    I read about Anne Marie Barr, that young girl when he was a teenager
    It seems on the night in question there was a huge storm
    And all Ted had was a small bike, its totally implausible
    But because of who he was and his proximity, he is just proving to be a pain in the arse
    in so far as people just won’t accept it might have been someone else
    And it’s all over the internet that it was probably him
    When there were a few real, plausible suspects that are far more realistic
    The whole case is just hampered completely
    ANd the relatives never get closure
    His very existence, and presence in a state, hampered unsolved cases eveywhere
    It wasn’t completely everywhere, there obvious were links in general MO
    But it kind of acted as a shadow over the case ever being solved
    Or certainly put to rest by the townsfolk

    But on the flip side
    He pulled into a town, to a gas staion, a girl rode there too on her bike
    and low and behold it turned out it was actually him, just passing through as it were
    Purely because he was in the vicinity
    Thats how prolific he was I guess

    In the bedroom of the first girl in the basement flat
    https://www.kiro7.com/news/photos-ted-bundy-evidence-photos/696584489
    Was a reference written on the wall to a Karren Bruce?
    I’m guessing an intruder wrote that on the wall, rather than the girl herself
    Ted?
    But nothing seems to be on the internet about it
    Why can’t I find anything about that? it seems strange?

    99% of everything in those days was based on dental records
    Jane Doe’s etc were identified by teeth, blood type
    Very sort of hit and miss, no real forensic science
    some people didn’t even have dental records, so remained a Doe
    Thing is if a case was never solved, people still believe it might have been Ted
    But it has been shown over time that not all convictions are valid
    In other words many cases that were closed, might have actually been miscarriages of justices
    Thing is so if a case was solved, people still believe it might have been Ted
    So solved, unsolved, it might have been Ted
    And when you think of the amount he moved around? The area he covered
    The cases within those areas, and many of these places were cities
    Where one guy, one burglary, TV theft, rape just sort of blends into the background in a city like Washington on saturday night in 1972
    There are too many of them, and no real way of knowing exactly where Ted was at any given moment
    Especially across a range of years?
    The only reason I say this is because it greatly messes up any perfect ideas of ever really knowing what actually happened
    I guess we will never know?

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  5. This is all about compartmentalisation 0f the brain and control (possession being a facet of control)
    sally field played some famouse woman with like 17 different characters
    she was abused as a girl (real story I believe), and the brain’s only defense was to split itself up and hide parts of it from others
    completely in the case of sally fields character
    so she even became different people?
    it was a way of coping with the abuse
    Ted was abused I believe a great deal by his grandfather as a child
    His self esteem crashed and he lost all control of his life
    brain tried to hide itself from itself, shield parts from parts
    Like many other children being abused, he started abusing animals
    He held over them the control he lacked in his own life
    He played GOD with mice, killing and controlling them
    His brain compartmentalised
    Half of him was nothing with no control whatsoever, half of him was this GOD like figure, with absolute control over life and death
    It was described that as a young man he used to spend all his time hanging round the Northgate Mall car park
    It was here he caught a man stealing a womans handbag, I don’t believe he was a hero
    I think that was HIS territory, he was protecting it from competitors, he was GOD, that area was his
    Everyone there were all just less than him, everything was his under his control
    Likewise the saving of that little girl who almost drowned, because he was all powerful
    Prowling the area at night, it was HIS area, those were HIS houses, he would go into and steal whatever he wanted
    The people were his, to own, kill if he wanted
    I believe all these women in Washington and Utah were in HIS territory, and HIS property
    When he was apprehended in Utah, there had been a spate of burglaries in the area
    I bet that was him, that was HIS area, he would just go wherever he wanted, take what he wanted
    And other readings suggested various women’s locations were heavily clustered
    were they clustered all within HIS area
    Which in HIS car, he patrolled at night, it ALL HIS
    EVERYTHING, all of US
    He’s obbssesed with posession and control, til everything comes under his control
    He no longer feels bound by rules, but actually when attacked by women he loves or whatever
    He is a house of cards, trying to protect himself
    And his character hasn’t actually evolved, so he’s just like a twelve year old surrounded by adults
    His just completely out of his depth

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    1. Either Bundy’s animal torture has been downplayed, or we don’t have much information about it. I know he had a dog named Lassie, but other than a photo of him holding her, we don’t know his relationship with the dog.

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      1. When Bundy was a boy he enjoyed buying mice from a pet shop. As his former defense attorney, John Browne, explained, “He’d go to the woods and build a little corral, and then he’d decide which ones to kill and which ones to let go.” It was Bundy’s way of playing God. That’s also how he viewed his human victims. For him, choosing not to kill was just another way to control life and death, which may also explain why Bundy once worked for a suicide crisis hotline.

        Read More: https://www.grunge.com/145187/the-untold-truth-of-ted-bundy/?utm_campaign=clip

        John Wayne Gacy, as a minor, he set turkeys on fire using gasoline-filled balloons. As a grown up, he killed 33 men and boys.

        How exactly Dahmer treated his animals could be said in a number of ways. He cut them up, put them on sticks, disolved them in acid.

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